Human Rights and Gun Confiscation
54 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2007 Last revised: 2 Apr 2015
Date Written: 2008
This article examines human rights abuses stemming from the enforcement of confiscation or similar laws. Part I conducts a case study of the U.N.-supported gun confiscation program in Uganda, a program which has directly caused massive, and fatal, violations of human rights.
Part II examines a similar gun confiscation program, with similar results, in Kenya.
Part III describes the recent government attempts to disarm South African citizens, and details how the implementation of antigun laws has caused extensive violations of civil and human rights, although not the government-perpetrated murder, torture, arson, and ethnic cleansing that have been endemic in Kenya and Uganda.
Part IV reports on survey data and other evidence from around the world which suggest one reason why gun confiscation programs can result in major human rights violations: most gun-owners possess their firearm for personal and family defense. Therefore, gun confiscation must be enforced by extremely violent and intrusive measures.
We conclude by offering two caveats for disarmament programs. First, that voluntary disarmament will generally be possible only after a government has proven that it will protect the security of the people who would be disarmed. Second, that coercive attempts to disarm people who still need guns to defend themselves - including for protection from predatory governments - are likely to lead to massive resistance, and to an escalating cycle of human rights abuses by government forces, and re-armament by the victim population.
Keywords: Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, gun confiscation, disarmament
JEL Classification: I31, J70, K14, K33, K42, Q19, R58
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation